“From within the various rooms, the shallow loggias formed on the outside of the windows and the screening effect of the structural framing will contribute a feeling of protection to the inhabitants, some of whom might otherwise dislike the impression of living on the edge of a cliff.”
Chamberlin, Powell & Bon, Architects “Barbican Redevelopment” April 1959
The external cantilevered balconies (one of the most recognisable features of the Barbican Estate from a distance) were a crucial part of the flats’ design. They run right round the towers at each floor level, passing between the inner and outer vertical columns of the external ‘split pier’ framing.
The intention – which they admirably fulfil – was to provide a substantial visual and structural element between the window sill and the outer edge of the building, to give people a feeling of protection and safety, and to minimise the ‘cliff hanging’ feeling often experienced by other tower block residents.
The overhanging upstairs balcony also protects the downstairs flat against wind and rain, so windows can be opened for ventilation in most weather conditions. They also provide an escape route in case of fire, leading directly to the external staircase. Stairs link the balconies to the internal access lobby and provide a direct route of escape from all upper levels of the building to ground level.